This is Part 1 of a 4-part series highlighting a crucial marketing mistake you need to avoid making in each of the 4 popular social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin & Pinterest.
Increasingly, businesses that continue to ignore social media are forced to go under. Reader’s Digest, a general interest family magazine, filed for bankruptcy 3 days ago. The advent of social media, however cliche, has given traditional marketers a run for their money. Once-skeptical business owners and marketers scramble to catch up. To both the advantage and disadvantage of marketers, a wealth of information to use social media platforms for marketing purposes is easily available online. While business owners like you are applying the pressures on your marketers to establish your brand’s presence in the social media arena, it’s crucial for you not to overlook potential pitfalls.
In this article, I will illustrate the potential pitfalls specific to the use of hashtags on Twitter.
Think you understand #hashtags? Think again.
Does your brand use hashtags when publishing content on Twitter? How does your marketer choose which hashtag(s) to use? One key problem I observe is that marketers only consider the supply-side of hashtags. In other words, they think like a marketer rather than a consumer. Usually, marketers find out how often a hashtag is tweeted before using it. They are wary of nonexistent and overused hashtags, which would affect the reach of their tweets. Good. But past this test, marketers rarely do any further research or follow-up with hashtags. Consequently, they find their tweets buried in the mountain of twitter’s archives despite including numerous hashtags. If they’re lucky, they might get a couple of retweets or replies.
On the other hand, consumers search hashtags to find relevant information, and when doing so, they consider a couple of things:
- Are the search results relevant and helpful?
- Are the search results overwhelming in numbers?
- Are the search results dated?
Are the search results relevant and helpful or are they overwhelming in numbers?
Marketers often forget to find out how often their hashtags are searched and whether the way they tag their tweets makes them visible to their target customers. After all, Twitter processes 1.6 billion searches everyday, and that’s 3rd only to Facebook and Google. Naturally, the number of search for any given term varies greatly. As such, an overused hashtag may not have much search traffic because tweeps find it unhelpful to see a flood of posts, which presents them with too many choices, often dominated by spam, inexact or irrelevant content. Consumers, unlike marketers, don’t scour through tens to hundreds of posts to find what they want. Most mainstream internet users scan through the results visible within the fold, and hurriedly type in the next search query or go for the back button. That is why some of the less used hashtags may deliver better customer outreach for your tweets than a popular one, because mainstream internet users find them particularly useful when finding the content they want.
Furthermore, your marketers need to find out whether the search traffic for any given term comes from your target audience. Sometimes, more search traffic is generated by marketers like you and I, and even more so if your competitors think likewise. By looking purely at statistics figures provided by various sources, we can be easily misled to think that customers search the same terms we do.
Are the search results dated?
Observing the way Tweeps behave mean that users of Twitter often search for things that are not just contextually important, but also sufficiently updated. Recency of tweets vary according to the topic involved. A publication that targets the most recent blockbuster news will be especially time-sensitive, as opposed to evergreen content and advice for someone looking for a job. You can see some examples of such search queries in trends, ranging from local to global phenomenon such as the US Presidential Elections to Russian meteor blast, which can be local or global. Majority of search traffic also target specific niche, such as the annual South By Southwest (SXSW), an annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival held in Austin. Usually, hashtags trend because of a certain realtime incident or event that rouse emotions in tweeps with common background or interest. Such “live” nature of trends require an extensive effort by marketers, but if done correctly, can reach an impact not widely seen, as in the case of Oreo. Such search habits mean that it is crucial marketers understand the nature of the tools they use, like the nature of twitter: how hashtags trend and how tweeps discover hashtags, through both trends and their interest at the point in time. As marketers often find out, these consumer behaviours in reality are disconnected with their strategies.
Don’t give up
The truth is, customer acquisition never ends. The number of converted customers will remain low compared to the number of visitors, for both traditional marketing channels and social media marketing platforms. The work to hunt for the most effective hashtag will go on daily, and even after finding 3 to 5 of them, they might change from time to time. Therefore finding these hashtags do not signal an end in your marketers’ work. It’ll be hard work. But it is also sensible work. As much as your marketers need to rush to catch up with other brands on the marketing front, you also need to be careful and ensure your brand doesn’t carry on making these mistakes.
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